"How old are you?"
"12. But I've been 12 for a long time."
"Are you a vampire?"
"I need blood to survive."
"Let Me In" is a world away from the perfectly coiffured, heart-throb, dullards of "Twilight" or "True Blood".
Where many vampire tales live in a world of fantasy and impossibility "Let Me In" is rooted in a world that we all recognise. Don't we all have moments where we too feel like we have been "...12 for a long time" and don't we all need "blood to survive"? It is that anchor in the things we all share in common that makes this film worthwhile where "Twilight" is, for all reasonable people, worthless.
12 year old Owen lives in the sort of place where people leave...nobody ever arrives. It's a non-town, a non-place. In the middle of a savage, snow soaked, winter somebody does arrive; Abbi along with her father. They take up residence in the apartment next to Owen and instead of hanging curtains and handing out cookies to their neighbours they black out the windows and lock themselves in.
Owen is a victim. His mother isn't really there; permanently shrouded in her nightgown and lost in a drunken haze she is an ethereal presence on screen and in Owens life. His father is a voice at the end of a telephone...even further removed than the mother. At school he is tormented, tortured, by an unholy trinity of bullies who inflict the most awful physical and psychological pain on him.
Slowly, surely and inevitably we learn that Abbi is not what she appears to be...but then how does that make her any different to any of us? Her "father" is, we learn, the man who at one time was a boy like Owen who has devoted his life to helping Abbi...helping her to feed, helping her to hide and helping her to survive by murdering and bleeding young people for her.
As Owen and Abbi draw closer the "father" is pushed further and further away. It is clear that he is being replaced, clear that Abbi, despite having an emotional connection with Owen, is also aware that as "father" ages his usefulness will fade and a younger, more able and more devoted assistant is needed.
"Let Me In" is the sort of intelligent, thoughtful and thought provoking film that all too rarely finds its way into the multiplex. With performances from two brilliantly gifted actors in the shape of Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Moretz and a script that is faithful to both the original novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist and the original film by Tomas Alfredson "Let Me In" still manages to be, defiantly, original and evidently its own film.
There are moments of real, pure horror from both the real world (the bullying of Owen, the murders by "father") and the supernatural world of Abbi (the violent attack in the underpass) and there are also moments of heartbreaking emotion (Owens painful conversation with his father, the tender, blood soaked, embraces of Owen and Abbi) which all combine to make a film that is beautifully terrifying.